Fighting Fire With… Education

Fighting Fire With… Education

5 June 2006

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JACKSONVILLE, FL — Forestry officials say fewer fires are caused by carelessness, thanks to decades of education.

“Remember, only you can prevent forest fires, right?”

Paul Duetemeyer first heard that Smokey The Bear line years ago.

It was a warning he took to heart.

“I’d hate to be responsible for starting a forest fire, that wouldn’t be so swift,” said Duetemeyer.

He says he stays smart about matches, campfires, and stoves.

But he says he still sees people being careless and making mistakes.

“Look around the ground here, look at all the cigarette butts. I don’t know what their motivation is. They just don’t care, obviously. Why they don’t care, I don’t know,” said Duetemeyer.

The Forest Service says it is getting better, though, there are fewer careless mistakes than in years past.

“I think people are listening, taking more responsibility for the fires, making sure their out before they leave it. They’re caring more for the land,” said Peter Myers, Fire Management Officer with the Forest Service.

But for a guy that plans six more campsite stays on his way up north, Duetemeyer says he’s not taking any chances.

“I’m not a real tree-hugger or anything, but why would I want to destroy a forest. I just wouldn’t want to be responsible for that kind of thing,” said Duetemeyer.

The Forest Service is building on the success of fire prevention by teaching people fire protection.

They say to keep trees away from your home.

That way if a fire does start, your home will be further removed from it.

Also space out trees in your yard, so it will be harder for a fire to spread.

And keep bar-b-ques and campfires away from your home and brush.

They say not to assume that a couple days of even hard rain will saturate brush enough to prevent a wildfire.

They say we would need at least a half inch of rain every day for at least ten days to start saturating enough.

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